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If you’re in an ecumenical mood, you could marvel at how COVID-19 brings out the similarities between the three Abrahamic religions. The conservative contingents of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are in agreement for once:

1. We’ve disappointed God with our incessant sins, so to get our attention he created a pandemic that’s already killed a couple of hundred thousand puny earthlings, and now we all should repent and thank him profusely for not smiting everyone.

2. All the same, the virus is a blessing in disguise because it’ll reduce sinning as we re-learn to tremble before him; it makes us more reliant on and trusting in the divine; and it allows us to spend quiet time alone and with our nuclear family, meditating, praying, reading scripture.

Imam Faridbeg Mirza, religious director of the Masjid Al Noor Islamic Center in Fairfield, California, explained this theological pretzel in his local newspaper yesterday. Scientists and doctors notwithstanding, he sees us humans as being overcome with helplessness — which is a good thing, apparently:

[The virus] has proven that there is a supreme majesty over all the superpowers of the world, who has total control over the globe. He is the creator and sustainer of the whole universe. Everything happens through his command and according to his hidden plan.

The condition of the world changes due to the actions of human beings. Good deeds bring pleasant conditions and bad actions cause severe situations. God Almighty said in the Holy Quran, “Evil sins and disobedience to God have appeared on the land and sea because of what the hands of men have earned that God may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return.”

But forget about all that angry, random smiting! God is good, and Mirza praises him!

Look at the other side of the coin. Because of this lockdown and shelter-at-home order, we were forced to break the cycle of our busy lifestyle, the competition to earn more and more money and now spend most of the time with our loved ones.

Now we are sharing and caring for each other. We are eating and talking together with our family. We are relaxing and enjoying a good time

With all these restrictions, we are still breathing. Isn’t it a great favor and bounty of our Lord!

Sure is. When Germany thoughtfully blitzkrieged England’s capital city in the second World War, I’ll bet Londoners were deeply grateful both for the increased closeness and the joys of a quiet cuppa. The same thankfulness, and for the same reason, must have seized the few remaining Muslims and Jews after the siege of Jerusalem, the massacre by Christian crusaders who sought to wipe the “contamination of pagan superstition” from that ancient city. How the survivors must have appreciated the savage bloodletting that united them! How they surely reveled anew in the little things in life, like breathing!

Concludes Mirza,

So we all have to regret and repent sincerely for our sins. Our Lord is waiting to pardon us. He is the only one who can remove this calamity of the coronavirus and bring the world back to normal.

The sleight of hand is built in. Since Allah is the only one who can “remove this calamity,” all credit will go to him if the virus is swiftly brought under control. However, if COVID-19 makes millions of additional victims, that’s because we didn’t do enough repenting. Either way, the Almighty was in control all along. So, heads, Mirza wins; tails, we lose. Always funny how that works among the religious, isn’t it?

(Image via Shutterstock)